Writing on development

Writing on development

Development is not the many terms associated with the political speak of the politick that often seeks only to attain some political goal, or, to garner the interest of the party followers.

I guess observation tells me that we are going about the process of development the wrong way as a continent, and one of the most obvious signs is the fact that the continent’s development programmes largely depend on foreign aid.

There is nothing wrong with being aided, but seeking to be aided to kick-start development programmes from the moment of their inception to their implemental stage means that there is something wrong with the minds of the citizens or the government itself; it is in blunt terms an ideology of beggarhood which begets perpetual servitude: for the provider is naturally the master.

The old and over-chewed argument that such and such a programme could not get past the milk teeth stage means that we are in short a nation of dependants that rely on being spoon-fed.

In truth, aid is only there to serve as the initial push that provides the impetus to move towards self-reliance. How then does the continent move towards a culture of self-reliance if the main occupation of those seeking to enter government seems to be enjoying five years of luxury?
It does not make sense (common or complex) why one would boast about having ‘abundant’ natural resources and have more than half of the population living below the poverty line.

A staunch defender of the underdog I have always been, for the reality is that the flowery speeches of the politicians and their compadre lobbyists have never really made sense to me.  They do not make sense to me because the political arguments in this country always hinge on one fact: the endlessly debated “who is right and who is wrong” parley between differing political ideologies that always serve party interest and not the middle ground that has been forgotten since the state got its independence way back in the mid-1960’s.

The poor form the middle ground in the process of governance, they form the majority of voters roll, and they are 99 percent of the citizenry.
The government (any government for that matter), should take on the role of serving the interests of the 99 percent, and not the interests of the one percent or the less than 50 percent that take on the ropes of power. The resources of the land should be to the benefit of the entire country and not just a small clique.

If there has been a clearly marked culture of employment on the basis of political affiliation, then it means that all along, racism and tribalism never went away, as they were taught by colonialism. Now that colonialism is gone, the continent should have by now found ways to be self-dependent, to self-rely, and not to always be looking out for some helping hand.

Oftentimes, I am tempted to believe that the 500-year plan of the colonist was to leave the African mind on the same level as that of an infant that has to rely on handouts from the colonist (to have a perpetual ‘cap in hand’ mentality as an old varsity friend used to say).
It is as if the capacity to self-rely has in the mind of the African been cauterised, and in its place has been implanted the now common tendency to look backwards and not forwards.

Listen to political speak of the day and you hear terms such as ‘comrade’, ‘cadre’, ‘struggle hero’ and others of the bush ilk uttered more often than the necessary terms such as ‘progress’, and ‘development’ which should be vocable. Instead of addressing the core issues of development, the politician of the modern-day would rather erect an expensive ‘memorial’ (as if the children eat of stones and mortar, as if the stone figure were a demi-god that can answer recurring and prevalent economic problems in the societies all over the continent).

That some die in the struggle for independence is a reality we cannot escape, they are gone as the fodder that feeds the kine of progress.
Those bearing the most weight do not benefit anything from the expensive annual wakes in memory of the dead, rather, needed funds are funnelled towards endeavours that serve only the interests of the few who go on pretending they are at some bush parade where 90 percent of the soldiers do not know what it is that they are exactly fighting for.

The big battles are not fought by those who call each other ‘comrade’ for fun, the real war is in the squalid quarters where meagre means are commonplace and scarce resources are the order of the day. The scarcity of resources and the limited financial support of the day lead to the fervent competition one sees in markets.

Any market product and service that seeks little initial capital to start often becomes the site of a furious battle for the space, in itself an increasingly decreasing commodity as cities grow and rural-to-urban migration levels reach the uncontrolled levels they are now at.
Influx control is the main aspect of urban development, but the country finds itself in a dire strait as folks from the rural areas come to the cities en masse, and many of them carry the hope that the life in the city will be better than in the rural areas.

Upon arrival in the cities, all the visions of a good life fade as the morning fog, and the realities of the city reveal themselves in the real.
The reality is that there are no jobs for the educated, and this means that the uneducated individual that migrates to the city is faced with the reality that his or her chances of getting a job are below nil. The only jobs available are those casual, low-paying affairs that put just enough to feed only one individual.

Upon arrival in the city, the ties with those at home are severed, and the continuing rural economic regress advances.
To stem the tide of rural economic regress, the relevant authorities have to put in measures to prevent the increase in rural-to-urban migration to avoid stagnation of city centres, whose problems far outweigh the benefits.

Unemployed, individuals tend to engage in activities that are neither beneficial to the state in terms of economic input, nor, pleasant to those that view them from the sidelines. Productivity means that the reward justifies the effort, it entails that the labour is equal to the salaries and the wages, but the sad reality is that this is not always the case where the ‘unqualified’ individual has to multi-task on a level that is at least four echelons higher than that of the employer.

Where the individual puts in more effort than the return, then it means that the whole process of productivity is flawed, and soon leads to a decrease in the rate of productivity. This is a lesson learnt from the two years spent on a construction site where the author realised that the rate of construction often slowed in the first half of the month but increased in the second half towards payday.

The main reason for the slow rate is the fact that labourer wages are in this country way lower than they should be; at the rate of M40.00 to M70.00, the average worker is not inspired to work more than what he eats, for in truth, food is the fuel for the body, and what happens if the salary does not buy one enough food to sustain the effort?

Pushing wheelbarrows full of mortar requires that the individual doing the pushing be well-fed. A well-fed labourer is an efficient component of the process of the economic development. If not well fed, he becomes a chink in the chain of development, a slowing factor.
The process of development requires that those concerned be fully committed to the teaching thereof, that is, just delivering short addresses at soil or ribbon cutting events or launches does not define the process in full.

The ideas of all those involved and engaged all contribute to the success or the failure of the project; ignoring one side and paying attention to another will in no way improve the development scenario: for development in itself is a concerted effort that requires the synergy (synchronised energy) of all the brains and the hands of all those concerned, engaged, and involved in it.

I liken the process of development to the growth of the tree, where the roots, the stem, and the crown work together to see the tree grow to maturity.
If the stem were not there, there would be no tree and this applies to the presence or the absence of the other parts, for without them, the tree would not be what it is.

So, the development plan that is researched by experts, corrected and evaluated by ‘expert opinion,’ may on the surface seem highly efficient, but upon implementation reveal itself to be flawed.

This is due to the fact that development needs to be implemented from the grassroots upwards, and the ideas of development from the level of the grassroots are in actual fact the foundation to the whole concept of economic development.
Land control is a growing concern, and as earlier said, I think the land laws in this country do not serve the citizens interests but only those of the government.

Why the little 8.97 percent of arable land the country has cannot be protected against encroachment by the now fashionable construction industry vexes me.
It leaves me wondering what the ministry concerned with agriculture and that tasked with the planning of the development processes in the country actually do.
I think they are resting on their bones, because if they really gave a hoot about local agricultural production, then the distribution of land would be based on a model that engenders the process of agricultural development and not just serve a population that chooses to migrate from their regions to come hover like moths in the bright lights of the city centres.

We can never develop if we nurture the import culture of consumerist nations that in actual fact never grow their own but rather destroy any little land that they have through the implementation of anti-development practices in the name of urban development.

I know the defence is that the services are closer in the urban centres, and I pose the question to all individuals that have ever been involved in the process of economic planning and development at the level of government: why does government not provide needed services to the rural areas of the country that in every essence form part of the state?

That we do not develop is just due to the fact that the planning processes in the post-independence era have all seemed to carry the false notion that the outside will always play the safety net, that there was a ‘big brother’ somewhere out there looking out should the African fail.
Brilliantly researched and planned, but poorly implemented and executed; this is the trend of the development schemes that always somehow seem to fail to reach maturity.

That we fail in terms of real development should not just be dismissed as is done in the present day; it should be given the same amount of care and attention as it deserves.

Implementing those short-term projects will only feed the lucky few only for a short while, and the rest of the citizenry will remain stuck in the miry depths of increasing poverty that soon will be abysmal, unless some radical economic transformation is undertaken.
Let us view not development in the complicated nomenclatures of strategies we have a vague understanding of.

Development need not be travail, and the willing helping hand should not be dismissed on the basis of personal interest as seems to be the case in Africa. Development is simple as understanding the basic needs of the most basic citizen.

Previous We need a clean, credible voter register
Next The backward one

About author

You might also like

Insight

Qatar showdown?

The deadline that Saudi Arabia and its allies set for Qatar to submit to their “non-negotiable” demands has just passed, and Qatar has not complied. So what happens now? Does

Africa

we talk more and do less

I use the 4th October each year to look back into our past and to reflect. And by “reflect”, I do not mean to romanticise about the past. I mean to

Insight

The Generals spoke and Mugabe capitulated

When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Even former president Robert Mugabe in the end, proved not invincible. His day was November 21, 2017. After 37 years as